In 2005, Beanie Sigel Teamed With Method Man & Heavy D For 1 Of His Realest Releases (Video)
During the early 2000s, Roc-A-Fella Records was one of the music industry’s driving forces. Within the empire, JAY-Z was the boss, Kanye West was the creative, Cam’ron was the street-savvy comedian. Meanwhile, Beanie Sigel became the enforcer of the R-O-C.
By Y2K, New York City-based Roc-A-Fella took a strong interest in Philadelphia. Beanie Sigel was the first out the gate, making a strong appearance on Jay’s Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. After Beans’ 2000 debut, The Truth, State Property started making noise, a Philly collective that included Freeway, Young Gunz, and Peedi Crakk, among others.
But like the Roman Empire, Roc-A-Fella’s reign at the top was not immune to crumble. By 2004, following Jay’s Black Album exit from album-making, factions of the artist’s roster between the label’s most publicly accessible partners Dash and JAY-Z (Kareem “Biggs” Burke reportedly kept operations in order, in addition to A&R’ing the labels late successes). When Jay split from his manager/partner to become Def Jam Records’ new president, Dash subsequently launched his own imprint, Dame Dash Music Group. As artists chose sides, the Harlem mogul cemented one blue chip on his side of the partition: Beanie. During the label’s rapid infrastructure change, Sigel’s freedom was in question due to an attempted murder charge that he caught in 2004. The “Broad Street Bully” looked like he could be facing serious time, but Dash stood beside one of the Roc’s most respected homegrown products.
Not unlike Tupac’s days before Me Against The World or Guru’s turmoil during the recording of Gang Starr’s Moment Of Truth, Beanie Mack used pressure to make jewels. After two successful Top 5-charting campaigns in The Truth and 2001’s The Reason, The B. Coming showed greater depth to the menacing MC. The Dame Dash Music Group/Def Jam Records release followed a starring role in Roc film, State Property (and its sequel), as well as a fledgling clothing line of the same name.
While facing a potential career-ending prison sentence, Beans began his road to redemption with his reflective Heavy D-produced “Feel It In The Air,” featuring singer Melissa Jimenez. The pensive single echoed the melancholic sentiment of The Geto Boys classic, “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” as Beanie Mack wore his heart on his sleeve like never before. The somber track was produced by the late Heavy D, and contained the resounding brass sample loop from Raphael Ravenscroft’s 1979 Easy Listening Jazz song “Whole Lotta Something Goin’ On.”
Through three sobering verses, the poignant lyrics of “Feel It in The Air” shed light on Sigel contemplating his life in the streets and looking for a change of heart from his menacing persona. On his second verse, he displays his intuition about being guilty by his association with the wrong people: “I hear this voice in the back of my mind like Mack tighten up your circle / Before they hurt you / Read they body language / Eighty-five percent communication non-verbal, 85 percent swear they know you, 10 percent you know you they story Man, the other five, time will show you / Just know you.”
The video also reflects his words. MC/actor Method Man plays his friend, who is later revealed to be an undercover cop setting up Beans for a drug conspiracy case. At the end of the song’s visual, there is a message that details the backstory of Sigel’s legal situation that states his federal charges were switched to illegal gun possession.
Subsequently, Beans’ was sentenced to one year and a day in jail as a result. Sadly, it would not be the rapper’s last time inside the walls. In recent years, Sigel has shown flashes of the “Broad Street Bully” days, even after surviving a drive-by shooting. However, the MC who subsequently returned to Roc-A-Fella (following Def Jam’s buyout) made his finest work during some of the most tense times in his life.
At a time when Rap’s street poets like 50 Cent, T.I., Mobb Deep, and others were making party records, Sigel’s grim reality resonated with the masses.